Indian cricket team gears up for T20 shootout, Ben Stokes back for England
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team crushed England in the first T20 but the hosts won the next by five wickets. With all-rounder Ben Stokes also back in the mix, an exciting final game at Bristol on Sunday is on the cards.cricket Updated: Jul 08, 2018 13:35 IST
England’s win in the second T20 has set the stage for a Sunday blockbuster at Bristol. It’s exactly how the organisers would have wanted -- teams at one win apiece and set for a grand finale. It will have crowds lining up to pack the stadium.
India had the measure of England at Old Trafford with Kuldeep Yadav rattling the home batsmen. England bounced back after facing the Merlyn bowling machine, preparing better for India’s wrist spinners, especially the chinaman bowler, while sticking to their strength – pace.
BEN IS BACK
Ben Stokes will be back in the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in the preceding series against Australia. It was at Bristol that Stokes got into a fight that led to his missing the Ashes Down Under. The legal case is still not over. It will give England captain Eoin Morgan a selection headache. Stokes proved his fitness by scoring 90 off 68 balls for Durham on Thursday.
Competition for places is intense in the Indian team as well with Dinesh Karthik among those waiting to get a break. After dominating England batsmen at Old Trafford, India’s wrist spinners together took one wicket at Sophia Gardens. Yuzvendra Chahal took that scalp while Kuldeep went wicketless as India failed to defend 148.
Chahal put it down to the England batsmen changing tactics. “Kuldeep bowled really well in the last game but in this game they played him more carefully. They chose which delivery to play or not play. With a score of 150, if we took it to the last over, then we bowled well.
“In the last game, they made too many mistakes. They took calculated risks here, didn’t hit against him in the first three overs, but did in the last over because we also had a chance to win,” said Chahal, pointing to Jonny Bairstow smashing Kuldeep for two sixes in the 17th over to reduce England’s target to 23 runs from 18 balls.
Morgan didn’t expect conditions to help his pacers to the extent it did. “Conditions out there surprised me quite a bit, the bounce was a lot more than we thought it was going to be,” he said.
Kuldeep was not a threat, and Morgan said: “The conditions were different. He’s a very good bowler and he’ll bowl well the majority of the time. With the pace and bounce of the wicket the seamers might have dominated a bit more, but I thought our plans were a lot clearer. We played him well.”
THE PACE CONTEST
If England can neutralise the spin threat, there’s little to choose between the sides. After Morgan smartly chose to stick with pace than try to match India in the spin department, David Willey, Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett gave nothing away, never allowing an Indian partnership to build and applying pressure till the very end.
Still, this is a well-rounded Indian attack, and Cardiff proved it. The way Indian seamers matched the England pace battery would have given Virat Kohli a lot of confidence.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar stood out. He again showed when conditions are helpful, he is a different bowler. Umesh Yadav is Kohli’s wicket-taking option with the new ball and hasn’t disappointed in the first two games. Continuing from where he left in IPL, Umesh made early inroads at Manchester and Cardiff. Jason Roy won’t be a very confident man when he squares up against Umesh at Bristol. The Nagpur man cleaned him up in both the games.
First Published: Jul 07, 2018 18:31 IST